Schools and universities are again sitting at the crossroads of innovation. In the 90’s and 2000’s, the proliferation of computer education in schools led to an entire generational transition towards computer proficiency. Now in 2016, the influence of educational institutions is again poised to make a similar impact on the 3D printing industry.
Whether it’s a college student 3D printing their own braces or developing tumor-cloning devices for more effective cancer treatments, students are pushing the applications and entire 3D printing ecosystem forward.
Despite all this innovation, the task of purchasing 3D printers and deciding how to manage the process still remains daunting for many departments. One of the most common scenarios we see working with schools, is that 3D printers have already been purchased and are simply not being used. Schools have stopped using them because it’s difficult to teach students multiple workflows for multiple printer types, and then manage that process without needing to hire additional resources on an already strained school budget. If only 5 students are able to use a $3000 3D printer and it requires a $50,000 per year lab admin to manage the process then it’s very hard for a program to justify the cost of acquiring more machines.
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